I’m often asked whether I’m a vegetarian because of ethical concerns about the treatment of animals (i.e., that we kill them) or for health reasons (because, I suppose you could argue, the animals humans eat kill us).

The easy answer is yes. And also for environmental reasons. That’s the one people don’t even think to ask about.

But it’s becoming a more popular realization these days. While An Inconvenient Truth never mentions diet change, or the impact of farmed-animals on global warming, a recent report from the UN has encouraged people to connect some of the dots. (The “take action” section of the climate crisis site does include things like “buy locally grown and produced foods” as well as “eat less meat” as actions people can take).

They concluded: “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”

There’s a great summary and discussion in this article at AlterNet: “Vegetarian is the New Prius” and another at GoVeg.com: “Fight Global Warming by Going Vegetarian.”

For more in depth studies, check out:

Of course, as people have been pointing out in the comments at AlterNet, GoVeg, and Treehugger (which also posted the Alternet article), transporting veggies has an environmental cost as well, so buying local and organic is also a plus.